Can't really blame Byron. Chandler was great for them in 07-08, he would have gotten max offers if he was a FA in 2008. He played great defense on Duncan. He was injured the next season which hurt them a lot as well as no creator off the bench. That New Orleans team probably overachieved in the regular season, they had no help off the bench and started Morris Peterson at SG. Okay, they had Pargo off the bench, but in the grand scheme, he was a below average player.
SA was basically a similarly built team except with an elite SG in Manu, and their PF and defensive anchor was wrapped into one player in Duncan, then to top it off, they had one of the league's best perimeter defenders (still) in Bowen, and a really good PG. So it was basically if New Orleans improved in some areas talent wise, they would be SA. They went to 7 games against a more talented team that also had a better coach.
Was that series really determined by coaching or by Manu averaging like 21/4/6 vs New Orleans who had no real solid perimeter defender? They couldn't just focus on him either cause then Duncan was there, and Parker was there, and their wing defenders were Peja, Mo-Pete and Bonzi with Paul/Pargo sometimes at SG
Now, where I could see the argument that coaching actually did determine the series was Scott's decision to not rest his starters in game 7. MoPete and Pargo split SG minutes, but after them, Bonzi played 5 mins and Ely 3 minutes. Paul 47.5, West 46.5, Peja 44, Chandler 42 was probably overkill. Still, New Orleans was +6 in the 4th quarter and went into the 4th down 15 pts, they made a comeback attempt but seemed to hit a wall.
tl;dr, start here
Now, with that said, Paul has never been on a team that good since. If they could have preserved a healthy version of that team with some tweaks (MLE to get a combo guard scorer, sign a decent backup big), they could have been good. But they had 30 year old Peja suffering from injuries, and Chandler had health issues and got traded. They also wasted their free agency money signing Posey and didn't bring a player to replace Pargo's role. A lot of issues with team building there.
Last years team was equal record wise, but was not as good of a team (Chandler vs DJ difference plus coaching fit), last years bench plus that starting lineup (not VDN coaching) now that would have been an interesting team to watch.
Seems like it's sort of what we'll be getting this season (Paul = Paul, West = Griffin, Peja = Redick, MoPete=Dudley, Chandler = DJ???) based on what we get from DJ. Redick/Dudley/Crawford/Barnes/Bullock is much better than 30 yr old Peja/MoPete/Pargo/31 year old last NBA season Bonzi.
DJ is the X-factor.